January 20, 2009
On Saturday January 17, after 22 days of bombing which killed more than 1200 people, including 400 children, wounded more than 5000 and displaced more than 100,000, the Israeli government declared a unilateral ceasefire and a halt to the bombings of the people of Gaza. The Canadian Peace Alliance and the international community have been calling for a ceasefire for the past three weeks and although we are happy to see a halt to the attacks on civilians, there are grave concerns about the nature of the ceasefire that still need to be addressed.
The ceasefire is a unilateral decision by the Israelis that fails to address any of the concerns of the Palestinian people. A unilateral ceasefire is incredibly inadequate as it allows one side in a conflict to set all terms and conditions. While it is true that the elected Hamas government has also declared a ceasefire, the Israelis have made no attempt to meet the conditions set by the Palestinians for a lasting peace.
The Palestinians have requested that the borders be opened between Gaza and Egypt and Gaza and Israel. They also insisted that the Israeli ground forces immediately pull out of the Gaza strip. Neither of these requests has been implemented, and as a result, the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, based on years of blockade and exacerbated by the war, continues unabated.
The United Nations believes that they will need to send more than 500 trucks worth of humanitarian aid each day to address the humanitarian crisis. With the borders still shut it will be impossible to allow even a fraction of that required aid to be delivered.
Likewise, no ceasefire will be sustainable unless the international community addresses the issue of the ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands which has continued for more than 60 years. We therefore demand that the government of Canada do the following:
- Rescind its shameful decision to vote against the United Nations Human Rights Council vote and call for a UN fact finding mission to be sent to investigate Israeli war crimes in Gaza; (see: Canada’s Shame for details)
- Call for the opening of borders to Gaza;
- Call for the immediate pullout of Israeli troops from Gaza;
- Recognize the duly elected Government of Palestine;
- Reinstate aid to the Palestinian people;
- Call for the implementation of UN Resolutions 194 and 242;
- Call for the dismantlement of the settlements in Palestinian territory
These points have already been agreed to by the United Nations and the international community. Unless these steps are taken then there will be no possibility of justice or peace for the people of Palestine.